Amber Films 1991
When she arrives from Donegal on her ramshackle motor bike and sidecar, Peggy O'Rourke certainly puts the cat among the pigeons in North Shields. Her son, Bert, the loan shark who runs the pub, and has his finger in several pies, is not thrilled to see her. The mysterious Kevin watches her constantly. But the women in the pub darts team warm to her immediately, especially Julie, Rita and Kathy, beset with problems in their own lives, and looking for answers.
The story is set in North Shields, a small coastal town in the North East of England, and is structured around three weekly darts matches. In between the matches we observe the lives of the characters.
Using a blend of magic, fantasy and dreams, the film treads a knife-edge between humour and tragedy. The audience is drawn into the personal dramas; battering, alcohol, drugs and abuse are juxtaposed with the camaraderie of the darts nights where the women come together with a common aim: to win and leave their troubles at home.
Peggy, irreverent, funny, bossy and sexy brings an image of an older woman rarely seen on the big screen. She interferes unashamedly, and with mixed consequences she helps Julie, Rita and Kathy understand that they have the power to change their lives if they really want to.
Made under the auspices of the ACTT Workshop Declaration with financial assistance from Northern Arts and Channel Four Television.
North Shields, Tyne & Wear
AMBER PRODUCTION TEAM
Conceived, written, produced, directed, photographed and edited by Amber:
Sound: Elaine Drainville, Dave Eadington
Assistant Camera: Lynda Robinson
Continuity: Lisa Jones
Design: Judy Tomlinson
Production Accountant: Viv Dawson
Grip: Geoff Scott
Production Assistants: Jane Neatrour, Anne Robson, Lynn Silmon
Electricians: Tony Cook, Alan Fish, Alan Ramsey
Stills: Steve Conlan
Stunt Co-ordinator: Denise Ryan
Production Trainees: Jackie Kerr, Helen Stephenson
Original Music: Graham Raine, Bridgette Enever with Kisha
Special thanks to: Cedarwood Women's Writing Group, Meadow Well Credit Union, North Shields Women's Darts League, The Laidler Family
Made under the auspices of the ACTT Workshop Declaration Produced in association with Channel Four, British Screen, Northern Arts.
Rita: Maureen Harold
Kathy: Amber Styles
Julie: Anna-Maria Gascoigne
Peggy: Pat Leavy
Larry: Ray Stubbs
Sharky: Brian Hogg
Baz: Derek Walmsley
Bert: Art Davies
The Spirit: Niall Toibin
Colin: Wayne Buck
DHSS Officer & Singer: Mike Christie
Julie's Friend: Libby Davison
Gwen: Gwen Doran
Pork Man: Steve Drayton
Security Man: Mike Elliott
Sharon: Charlie Hardwick
Senior Citizen: Harry Herring
Julie's Supervisor: Cilla Mason
DHSS Claimants: George Bounty, Gillian Conroy, Maggie Gee, Tony Mason, Arthur Urquhart
DHSS Security: Stan Gee
Policeman: Alan Fox
Vicky & Stephanie Higgins
Amy & James McKie
Peter & Dylan Mortimer
Home: Joan Bell, Eileen Gallagher, Ann Graham, Wendy Williams.
Away: The Catholic Club, The Robin Hood, The Ballarat
Daughters, Debt, Housing Estate, Loan Shark, Meadow Well, Mothers, North East, North Shields, Post-Industrial, Pub, Women, Darts, Domestic Violence, Bulimia
Reviews and Awards
Most Original Film Scenario, La Baule (1991)
Public Prize, Creteil, Paris (1992)
Best Network Programme, Royal Television Society (1992)
Television Programme of the Year, Special Commendation: Fiction, Prix Europa (1992)
Prix Futura, Television Fiction, Berlin (1993)
Blue Ribbon, American Film & Video Association (1993)
A kind of magic realism of the cinema where documentary grit blends into dream, mysticism and fantasy ...this multi-layered, even contradictory framework best describes how we make sense of our lives in the 90's ...the women deal with their situations with resignation and resilience out of which, later, comes determination to change their lives. Sylvia Hines, Mediawise
A radical departure for Amber... in the emphasis on feelings rather than work... what it is like to be a woman enduring a lover's beatings rather than live alone... Amber Styles gives an extraordinary performance as a woman forever willing to give her man a second chance. Barbara Noreen, The Guardian
Breaks new ground in the realms of tragedy, comedy and fantasy. Gail Walker, Newcastle Evening Chronicle
Blending magic, fantasy and day to day life it may well come as a surprise to those who have grown used to Amber's powerful documentary approach to drama. It isn't a move away from realism, however. Dreams are part of people's lives and the film is attempting to open up that richness of experience ... when times get tough clairvoyants can take on a special significance. Graeme Rigby, The Page, Northern Echo
Meadow Well: An English Estate, photographic exhibition by Steve Conlan, the work commissioned in parallel with the development of the film. Follow the link to a free online presentation.
The Privatisation Tapes (Amber, 1986, AV/TPT), documentaries developed with local authority workers and unions, much of the work in North Tyneside, looking at the issues surrounding the policy of privatising services that was being introduced by the Conservative government.
Shields Stories (Amber, 1987, AV/SST), a series of 10 minute 'soap' dramas exploring issues confronting the lives of people in North Shields.
Working It Out, photographic exhibition by Isabella Jedrzejczyk.
Mixed Feelings, photographic exhibition by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen.
For a monthly changing selection of films and videos by Amber and its friends, visit www.sidetv.net.
For more information about Amber and its film and photographic work, visit www.amber-online.com